Scattante CFR Elite – one year later

Never regret something that once made you smile….at the time its what you wanted

I was pondering this story now for a while and made notes here and there because I do want this to be a fair, but critical look at the CFR Elite. Before you read on, you should quickly read  an article I wrote a while back which is glowing with praise for the CFR. If you don’t want to read all the details, let me catch you up quickly; I used to ride a Cannondale T800 which showed a crack in the left rear dropout after a crash. I shopped around the LBS’s when my eye fell onto the CFR Elite, a 2006 model, available for a huge discount in April ’08. Back then the savings were too good to pass up, but this is part of the story.

Scattante is the Performance Bicycle Store brand . Supposedly the frames come off the same production line as the Fuji bikes (I never got this 100% confirmed). What initially attracted me to the bike was

  1. Shimano Ultegra shifters, crank, derailleurs and cassette and
  2. full carbon with a see-through paint job.

The bike looked and felt very aggressive and the test ride sold me immediately. But, how could it not? My old ‘dale was at least 8 pounds heavier and before test riding the CFR I have never been on a full carbon bike. So, everything felt light, responsive and fast and of course, it was a shiny new bike.

Part of the deal (I bought the bike for $1200 incl. tax) was a full fitting session and I have almost no problems with the service received. I say almost, because after riding some 7000 miles on this bike I now know that the 54 cm size on this specific geometry is wrong for me. The way the bike sets up, I have an effective top tub length of 55.5 cm and that is quiet long for someone standing 5’8″ without the arm length of an ape. I did not know that, but they should. I also have to say that initially it did not bother me much, because I was starting to get back into cycling and a 20 mile ride was huge distance back then. So was cycling up 26th street which I called ‘the mountain’ – it really is only an 800 yard long hill with a 3 to 4 percent grade. What I am trying to say is, that the reach issue did not surface until I started riding longer distances and started building up strength with real hill climbing exercises.

Right around the one year mark after purchase the springs of the Cane Creek break levers started to rust. To me this is a big visual blemish because I try to keep my bike well maintained and good looking. Not long thereafter (outside the 1 year warranty parts and labor warranty) I notice that my front wheel was not spinning freely (Shimano). My LBS took the hub apart and said that the part holding the bearings was slightly warped. Hu? – How does that happen? I got a song and dance that today’s stiff forks put a lot more pressure on the hubs and so on. I told them that I thought this was a BS story and asked if they were willing to honor it under warranty, which they did not (I was 11 days outside of the window). They did order the small parts to fix it (after I had to pay upfront) and agreed to waive the labor charge. Funny, I just looked at the date and it is exactly 2 months since the order and the small parts are still on backorder.

A couple of weeks after we ordered said parts, the front wheel got so bad that you could hear the uneven revolutions while riding. I stopped back in and demanded and received a loaner wheel because I cited safety issue. Couple of weeks later I noticed that my rear wheel was showing signs of uneven spinning while cleaning the drivetrain. So, back I went, and no I did not get a loaner for the rear (I tried), but one of the wrenches loosened the nut holding the cogs to give a bit more play to spin. And, that is how I still ride.

In summary:

Would I buy from this store again: no

Why: I feel I was sold the bike because it needed to get off the floor (remember an ’06 model bought in ’08) without regard of proper fitting. I also feel that the wheel issues are handled very poorly

Would I recommend the Scattante CFR Elite: with reservations

Why: It is a very good bike for someone who will ride short trip distances and that person will get a lot of bike for the money. However, if you are serious about riding (I put 7000+ miles on the bike since I bought it) you will find that the old saying “you get what you pay for” holds very true. I find that the frame doesn’t have the desired stiffness (especially for climbing), somewhat a sluggish response when I ‘step on it’ and I am frustrated with repair issues typically not associated with other brands.

Originally I thought I would make the investment in upgrading components, such as wheels and brakes. I did abandon that plan and instead started feeding a new bike fund to purchase a ‘serious’ bike for my serious passion. In the meantime I will try to maintain the CFR as best as I can and whenever the new bike comes retire it to such duties as shopping runs around town.

In the spirit of never regretting what once made me smile – the CFR is a good bike, I simply outgrew its capacity.

About GT in LA

Retired - Overlanding, fly fishing, backpacking, HAM, are some of my interests
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10 Responses to Scattante CFR Elite – one year later

  1. Robert says:

    Thanks for the objective review. I’m considering buying a “real” (i.e. not department store) bike for the first time and was in the Performance store tonight looking at a Scattante CFR Sport. They’re having a very good special right now so that’s a strong motivating factor. Even though this isn’t a glowing review, I found it helpful because it makes me feel like even with its faults, this is probably a good choice for me until I’ve gained more experience. Thanks.

  2. Thomas Magnum says:

    Based upon your review of the Scattante, my Cervelo P2C is also a cheap bike. I have many less miles, and none in the rain – however my brake springs show some rust as do the bolts on my Vision base and aerobars. Rust is also apparent on the pinch bolts on the handlebar stem. I take care of my equipment, but I also sweat alot when going at 90% of max. Chrissy Wellington won a couple Ironman World Championships on the P2C…

  3. Cranker in L.A. says:

    I ride a 2005 Scattante CFR Race, full Ultegra, Cane Creek headset, Weyless forks, stem and Al bar. I have to say this bike has not disappointed me at all. I find almost no flex and the bike handles uneven / rough pavement well. I only ride about half what GT puts in, but that’s enough to understand my bike. Bottom line is this bike gets me up PV Drive East, Crenshaw and climbs like that very nicely. On descents at up to 41 mph (my max so far) it tracks straight with no wobble. I’m very happy with the bike, but as “331 Miles” says in the post above, I’m now looking to upgrade to a Madone 5 Series. Not mad at the Scattante, just want a Madone.

  4. suprcivic says:

    It seems like all of the problems you had have nothing to do with the actual bike or the scattante brand. The wheels are shimano and the brakes are cane creek. True, the frame did not fit, but that is the fit that you were sold, not the design of the bike. A smaller frame would have been more appropriate. This said, those problems could be had with any brand bike using the standard shimano or cane creek parts (which are quite popular). The flex is the only thing I read that you dislike that would be unique to the scattante frame. Do you feel that the flex is that bad, or is it just more of a touring-type feel and you would like more of a performance tuned frame?

    • gtinla says:

      Yes, my primary gripe is with the flex, which really shows up when climbing. I have ridden touring bikes with less flex.
      Your other points are well taken, although I disagree with you to look at the individual components separately, as all the parts make up the sum of the whole. In fairness I have to say it again, I purchased this bike for $1200 and got a lot of bike for the money, and back then, I would have never envisioned that I would end up riding as much as I do. My next frame will be performance tuned.

  5. Sam says:

    Hello GT in LA, i was almost making up my mind to buy the scat elite till i read your article, can you please share some more info on the elite, currently i have a scat 560 al bike and was wanting to upgarde to the elite, was also looking at blue rd-7.


    • gtinla says:

      Hello Sam,
      thank you for the visit. Please ask specific questions and if I have the answer I will be happy to share it with you.

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  8. 331miles says:

    The Scattante took you from being a total newbie to what sounds like a very experienced and capable cyclist. It would probably be time to upgrade even if you had bought a higher level bike. When I get some $$$ coming in, I’m thinking a custom steel bike would be *very* nice…

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